In this handout photo released by Colombia's National Police, former Southampton and Portsmouth soccer player Jhon Viafara stands flanked by police officers after his arrest on a U.S. drug warrant, in Jamundi, Colombia, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Colombia's chief prosecutor's office said that prosecutors in Texas believe the midfielder was part of a criminal network tied to the nation's Gulf drug cartel, which for a decade moved large shipments of cocaine into the U.S. (Colombia's National Police via AP)

Ex Colombia soccer star arrested for drug shipments

March 20, 2019 - 1:16 pm

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Former Southampton and Portsmouth midfielder Jhon Viafara has been arrested in his native Colombia on a U.S. drug warrant, officials said Wednesday.

Colombia's chief prosecutor's office said that prosecutors in Texas believe Viafara was part of a criminal network tied to the nation's feared Gulf cartel, which for a decade moved large shipments of cocaine on fast boats and semi-submersible through the Pacific Ocean to Central America and onto the U.S.

He was arrested Tuesday along with four other people near the southern city of Cali after being involved in a car accident. Police said he was speeding while driving intoxicated.

The 40-year-old Viafara played on several Colombian club teams and the national team as well as Portsmouth, Southampton and Spain's Real Sociedad before retiring in 2015.

Colombia's booming cocaine trade has sometimes lured soccer stars who in retirement struggle to maintain the lifestyle they grew accustomed to in their prime playing days. A month ago, former national team defender Diego Leon Osorio was convicted for distributing narcotics.

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